Digital drives in-store by getting local and personal

PHILADELPHIA—Using digital channels to drive traffic in-store means not only getting personal with shoppers, but also structuring the corporate organization to live and breathe omnichannel.

"Customers don't see us as e-commerce and stores, they see us as Walgreens," said David Sturrus, director of digital marketing and strategy at Walgreens, at a 2015 Digital Summit breakout session. As a result, Walgreens has merged digital marketing and traditional marketing into a single, omnichannel-focused team while many companies are still keeping these teams separate.

So who is doing omnichannel right?

One example is Walgreens' Clip to Card service. Shoppers can find the online circular on Walgreens' mobile app or online, then log in to their Rewards Balance account. As customers find coupons they want, they simply click the coupon and the deal is connected directly to their Rewards Balance account. The discounts are then redeemed automatically at checkout.

"It gives shoppers the same excitement as clipping the coupons from the printed circular and bringing them physically to store," Sturrus said.

Truly localized and personalized offers are becoming increasingly important. "People are still trying to parse local into cities and regions, but local is becoming more and more granular…by neighborhood, zip code, down to the shelf in a specific store," said Rebecca Lieb, industry analyst at Altimeter Group. "Local is what is driving shoppers right now."

Bolthouse Farms and Walgreens have both experimented with highly personalized offers connected to mobile, according to Jeff Fagel, chief marketing officer at Cofactor.

After seeing customers post pictures of Bolthouse juices and smoothies on Instagram, the company began encouraging them to post product pictures with certain hashtags. In return, shoppers received a comment on the photo offering a discount of nearly two dollars off of a future purchase. "You are actually driving mobile behavior," Fagel said.

Walgreens used localized mobile ads for Tide detergent near the New York subway that used the tag line, "Wearing white on the C train is tough," coupled with a coupon for Tide at a nearby store.

Less than 40 percent of brands and retailers have this type of strategy that creates a seamless customer journey from online to off-line, according to research from Altimeter Group and Cofactor. "There is an enormous disconnect between what CPGs and retailers' goals are, or what they want to embrace, and what they are actually doing," Lieb said. "These need to be realigned."

Thus, omnichannel goals need to be aligned with actions and strategy, the strategy needs to be in sync with how shoppers are shopping, and the experience should be consistent across channels.

See all FierceRetail's 2015 coverage.

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